Definition of contrive in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Create or bring about (an object or a situation) by deliberate use of skill and artifice.

    ‘his opponents contrived a crisis’
    ‘you contrived to be alone with me despite the supervision’
    • ‘The referendum itself was completely contrived.’
    • ‘I was satisfied, however, that her account of the relevant conversations was an honest one, in the sense that they had not been deliberately contrived by her as a false account.’
    • ‘He briefly tried his hand at furniture design and excels at contriving quirky contraptions and uncanny objects, some of which find their way into elaborate environments.’
    • ‘She knows that she must not run and yet, desperate as she is, cannot contrive an escape plan.’
    • ‘I do not think these coincidences were consciously contrived.’
    • ‘Gilda soon runs away from the horrible situation, but Johnny contrives her return for a final confrontation.’
    • ‘And since I'm making melodrama, contriving a plot is hardly a betrayal of that.’
    • ‘To complete his tapestry of interwoven plots, the resolution had to be brilliantly contrived.’
    • ‘The student had fabricated the story and, as it later appeared, contrived the voice of the second source as well.’
    • ‘As a consequence story-writers are forced to contrive elaborate plots that just go on and on and on.’
    • ‘The real miracle, though, is that you could contrive a way to have a food crisis.’
    • ‘We contrived a number of chances to claim the biggest scalp of all during that game, but a couple of individual errors cost us dear.’
    • ‘Another dictionary I looked at actually states that an architect is a person who plans, devises, or contrives the achievement of a desired result.’
    • ‘And truly the point is not to contrive a precise plan or even to pass a plan that does all of the above.’
    • ‘Fragments are always contrived into a structure of continuity and context.’
    • ‘The ones contriving the plan knew well enough to keep it secret from many friends and foes, and conned well enough to develop new technology almost completely foreign to the offending cultures.’
    • ‘He clearly did not want another plan for his assassination to be contrived.’
    • ‘It is something that cannot be contrived in normal circumstances.’
    • ‘Expression of the firm's history is contrived through design of the lobby.’
    • ‘The plot contrives miracles and coincidence to suggest there's something deeper going on behind the free-wheeling mess on-screen.’
    bring about, engineer, cause to happen, manufacture, orchestrate, stage-manage, create
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Manage to do something foolish or create an undesirable situation.
      ‘the poor guy in some way contrived to hang himself’
      • ‘Where other managements would somehow contrive to squeeze double the number of rooms within the same confines, they always seems to go in the opposite direction, as though trying to see how few rooms he can incorporate.’
      • ‘Were the Gods contriving to do us down once more on the major stage of the championship day?’
      • ‘Both contrive to produce misses out of impossibly promising situations.’
      • ‘It contrives to combine boastfulness, ignorance, insecurity and hostility in ample and self-reinforcing measures.’
      • ‘Scotland contrived to manage what eight different nations had failed signally to do in Cardiff yesterday - they lost to Wales.’
      • ‘However, it never ceases to amaze me how this country contrives to waste its natural assets.’
      • ‘My objection to this nonsense is not some kind of intellectual refinement or theological snobbery that contrives to dismiss popular devotions as somehow beneath a sophisticated and modern Christianity.’
      • ‘For a man who spends so much time in the gym and out on the golf course, he contrives to keep remarkably poor health.’
      • ‘By doing so they contrived to create, among other problems, the great gasoline shortage of the 1970s.’
      • ‘Credit to both sides for braving the elements and playing this game but, really, the weather contrived to make good football impossible and this game was very one-sided indeed.’
      • ‘Even if you manage to get them in, they will contrive to escape at the first opportunity.’
      • ‘And, like a rash that won't go away, he contrives to be everywhere.’
      manage, find a way, engineer a way, arrange
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French contreuve-, stressed stem of controver ‘imagine, invent’, from medieval Latin contropare ‘compare’.